Three Videos on Forecasting and Strategic Surprise

Many people are either beginning their  holidays or are already in the midst of them.  If you’re the type of person who  reads a blog like this, you probably already know what you’re hoping to read on your break.

Therefore, I thought I’d try a different approach and offer a summer watching list rather than summer reading list.  This list recommends three videos that you might consider for your travels or during your “down time”.   All address different aspects forecasting, uncertainty, strategic surprises and decision-making.  When you feel like a break from reading, give them a try.

The first video  is the famed psychology researcher  Philip E. Tetlock introducing the key ideas behind his book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?  (which I also recommend).   In about an hour and 15 minutes, Tetlock borrows Isaiah Berlin’s distinction between Foxes and Hedgehogs (who know many things or just one thing well, respectively), and discusses which animal (i.e. which mode of thinking) makes better forecasters.  You can download it or watch it for free on Fora TV here.

The second video to which you might give an hour of your summer is Paul Saffo on “Embracing Uncertainty and Forecasting”.  I assign Saffo’s Harvard Business Review article “Six Rule for Effective Forecasting”  in some of my classes.  Rather than sum up Saffo’s presentation, however, I’ll let Fora TV do the talking:  “A movie star as governor? No way! Planes hitting skyscrapers? The stuff of horror films! Forecasters struggle to anticipate an ever-stranger geopolitical reality. In this moment of unprecedented uncertainty and change, says Paul Saffo, it is tempting to conclude that forecasting is as dangerous as it is futile. In fact, connecting short-term policy to long-range forecasting is surprisingly easy — and absolutely crucial to meeting the challenges before us. All it takes is a simple shift in perspective and a few common-sense heuristics.”  You can download it or watch Saffo for free here.

The final video that you might consider is one that Philippe has mentioned before, Historian Frank Gavin speaking about “Five Ways to Use History Well”.  Philippe does a fine job summarizing Gavin’s argument, but it is worth hearing it straight from the source if you haven’t already.  At just over an hour and a half , Gavin’s talk is a little longer than the others, but it is certainly worth your time.   You can download it or watch it free here.

I hope that you enjoy at least a few of these videos, and of course that you have a great summer break (or winter break if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).  Naturally, I’d welcome suggestions for my break, too!

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One response to “Three Videos on Forecasting and Strategic Surprise

  1. On this topic, and back to reading, I recommend “Overcoming our aversion to acknowledging our ignorance“, a very interesting article on CATO Unbound by Dan Gardner and Philip Tetlock. The article is completed by exchanges and discussions by other experts.

    http://www.cato-unbound.org/2011/07/11/dan-gardner-and-philip-tetlock/overcoming-our-aversion-to-acknowledging-our-ignorance/

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